Death is my pronoun

Death is my pronoun premiered as a paper presented at The Queer Death Studies Conference at Karlstad University in november 2019. In 2020 the performance was turned into a film with the same name, more about that under the category Films.

Death is part of being trans. We learn early that folk like us don’t have the right to live. We face hatred and violence on a daily basis and, much more often than other communities, we must face the grief of mourning our siblings. A third of Sweden’s transpersons have considered killing themselves during the last year. If you are a trans teenager that number doubles (2015). Being trans in Sweden is a matter of life and death.

I was a trans activist for many years, but then found that doing service for my communities is a better way to stay alive. Service is different from activism. I now focus on reaching into the communities rather than reaching out to change the external world that we must live within. I serve to take part, to nurture what I need, and I pass on the courage of those who have lived and died before me. 

I serve our communities with Death Cafes and guided meditations to connect with our ancestors who, with a modern and Western understanding, could have been queer and trans. The art I am making can be seen as contemporary archeology: transferring knowledge and experience from past to future communities, inviting us to challenge and unlearn, and create images of what is not yet imaginable or possible.

New communities have been formed in the last few years. We have gained some more rights, a little more recognition, health care etc and all of this is thanks to successful activism. But we still die way too early. 

I offer a poetic, performative and visual paper about all of the above. It might even be a love letter to the trans communities and the magic we bring to this world.